Bob Becker: Blog

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 10) – Bruce Mather, Tallbrem Variations and Steel Pans

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In 1993 The Esprit Orchestra commissioned the distinguished Canadian composer Bruce Mather to write a concerto to feature the five members of NEXUS (Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russ Hartenberger and John Wyre). Mather’s piece, Tallbrem Variations, was completed in 1994 and premiered by NEXUS and Esprit (Alex Pauk conducting) on March 29, 1996… Read more »

Bowls, Bells, Brake Drums and Lou Harrison

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In the early days of NEXUS many of our “instruments” were various found objects – things not originally designed to be used in musical contexts. At that time I particularly enjoyed browsing for unusual-sounding implements in hardware stores and kitchenware departments. During the 1970s many common household items were still manufactured using quite high-quality materials…. Read more »

Never in Word – more questions from Lan KaiPo

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In July, 2021 I received an additional series of questions from percussionist Lan KaiPo regarding my composition Never in Word, as well as some general questions about my compositional method. LKP is currently continuing research for his doctoral dissertation “An Analysis and Performance Guide of Bob Becker’s Never in Word” at James Madison University. His… Read more »

Rubber Duckie, Bob McGrath and Marimba

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In June 2016 NEXUS performed a concert in the lovely seaside town of Rockport, MA. On the morning of the event, as we were having breakfast, someone mentioned a duck race was in progress right there in Rockport. I was intrigued, and also disappointed that I didn’t know about it earlier, as I would have… Read more »

Bob’s interview with Jonny Smith regarding Steve Reich and Musicians

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In October 2020 percussionist Jonny Smith asked me a series of questions regarding my experience with the music of Steve Reich, and my relationship with his ensemble. Jonny interviewed other members of Reich’s ensemble as well, and wrote a paper: “Relationship and Community in the Creative Process: The Steve Reich and Musicians Ensemble”, which is… Read more »

Bob’s interview with Antti Ohenoja and N.A.R.D. Finland

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In January 2021 percussionist Antti Ohenoja asked if I would answer a series of questions about drum rudiments from members of the N.A.R.D. in Finland. The original National Association of Rudimental Drummers was organized in the United States in 1933, and was responsible for choosing the “thirteen essential rudiments” still taught and practiced today. I… Read more »

Vocal Chamber Music of Bob Becker

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In February 2020, just before live concert music disappeared due to COVID, I was able to present two concerts of my vocal chamber music in Toronto. The first, on February 4th, was part of the Canadian Opera Company’s Vocal/Chamber Music Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre; and the second, on February 6th, was included in… Read more »

Bob’s Interview with Mark Reilly

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In June, 2020 I received a series of questions from SGM Mark Reilly, rudimental champion, composer and Corps Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Mark’s questions and my answers follow. MR. Who was your first big inspiration and why? BB. I should say that my first teacher, James S…. Read more »

Bob’s Interview with Lan KaiPo

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In August, 2020 I received a series of questions from percussionist Lan KaiPo regarding my piece Never in Word (1998). Below are Lan’s questions and my answers. LK. When notating percussion instruments that are transposed (bells and crotales) do you ever question whether you should write the actual sounding pitch instead of the traditional lower… Read more »

Time in the Rock – Travails of a Composer

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Tragedy. “A drama typically involving a person destined to experience downfall or destruction, as through a character flaw, or conflict with some overpowering force such as fate or an unyielding society.” Hubris. “An extreme and unreasonable feeling of self-confidence.” Posthumous. “Published after the death of the author.” In May of 2001 I began work on… Read more »

The Solo Snare Drum: Bob’s interview with Jonathan Curtis

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  In September 2020 I was invited by British percussionist Jonathan Curtis to take part in his snare drum research project. Details about his work can be viewed HERE. Jonathan was particularly interested in some of the ideas in my book Rudimental Arithmetic, as well as more generally about composing music for solo snare drum…. Read more »

Eight Etudes for Snare Drum

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This month – October, 2020 – Keyboard Percussion Publications released a new edition of my Eight Etudes for Snare Drum. The etudes included in the collection were composed during 2005 and 2006, and formed the seventh and final part of Rudimental Arithmetic – A Drummer’s Study of Pattern and Rhythm, published by KPP in 2008…. Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 9) – In Ancient Temple Gardens

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Following Nexus’ first concert tour to Japan in 1976 my friend and colleague Bill Cahn composed two major works: Nara, for solo percussionist; and In Ancient Temple Gardens, for xylophonist/percussionist and chamber orchestra. Bill himself premiered the latter piece in 1977 with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra. Nexus celebrated its tenth anniversary during 1981/82 with a… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 8) – El Duo

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In 1988 the distinguished Canadian composer Norman Symonds (1920 – 1998) wrote a duet for accordion and marimba titled El Duo. The brilliant accordionist Joseph Petric and I premiered the piece at The Music Gallery in Toronto, and then recorded it in 2001. El Duo is included on Petric’s CD “Orbiting Garden”, released on the… Read more »

More from Bob’s Archive (Part 7) – from Four Rituals

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In 2003 Nexus was able to commission a new work from the distinguished Canadian composer Christos Hatzis through a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation. We premiered his piece Four Rituals for Percussion Quintet, Chorus and Audience in December, 2004 on the Faculty Artists Series at the University of Toronto. The piece is in four movements:… Read more »

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